The May 6 episode of the ABC revival of “American Idol” will see the Top 7 cut down to the final five artists in contention for the season 16 title. Each of these lucky seven contestants will sing two songs: one from the year that they were born and the other from the catalog of the late singer/songwriter Prince. At the end of the evening, host Ryan Seacrest will reveal which five number among America’s favorites and will continue on in the competition.
The top seven vote-getters based on their performances on Sunday, April 29 are: Gabby Barrett, Cade Foehner, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Maddie Poppe, Jurnee Siani, Catie Turner and Michael J. Woodard. That was a landmark episode as it was the first in the 16-year history of the franchise to be seen live nationwide.
The same is true for this Sunday’s show. Everyone from coast to coast can vote for their favorites. At the end of the two-hour telecast, two artists will be eliminated. For those on the west coast who don’t want to watch live, the show will be repeated in its usual 8 p.m. time slot with a warning that voting is closed.
Below, follow along with all the action on the May 6 episode of “American Idol.”
8:00 p.m. – “Let’s Go Crazy!” “American Idol” is opening the vaults of music royalty tonight as each contestant will sing a song written by Prince. In addition, the Top 7 will sing another song from the year in which they were born. By the end of the night, two more contestants will be sent packing, revealing our Top 5. If that weren’t enough, tonight’s special mentor the likable, swoon-worthy Nick Jonas. Let’s get started!
8:10 p.m. – Kicking things off tonight with “Kiss” is Jurnee. This young diva is definitely in the hot seat because she has proven to be vulnerable when it comes to the public vote. I love this song and Jurnee is looking FIERCE, but I feel like ever since she was almost sent home she’s had fear in her eyes. She needs to fearlessly BRING IT every time if she wants to win over the viewers. This was a solid performance, but she still looks on edge to me. I wish she would relax and understand what a natural stage presence she has. Katy said Jurnee “looked like a snack” and appreciated her movement on stage.
8:15 p.m. – Gabby is next with Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.” During rehearsals she almost brought Nick to tears, but he said she could lean into the song even more to create a special moment. During the performance, Gabby is dressed in a black gown and her gentle voice lends itself nicely to this song. I can only imagine this song will play right into the hands of her fan base, so well played Gabby! I’m not sure if it was a moment we will remember even a week from now and the vocals weren’t perfect, but it was solid. Katy said Gabby’s performance tonight made her believe for the first time “there’s only one Gabby.” Luke said it was one of the strongest vocals of the season to date.
8:20 p.m. – Next up is Michael with “I Would Die 4 U” by Prince. I wasn’t sure how this would go, but Michael on stage always brings me nothing but joy. Over the first verse it doesn’t seem like he’s singing much and this song isn’t really one that stretches an artist vocally. And putting the bias I’ve developed for Michael aside, this is slightly awkward. That being said, the live audience went absolutely bonkers at the end and the judges are on their feet! Could Michael sneak in and win this thing?
8:30 p.m. – Over four million votes have poured in tonight and only three artists have performed! That still doesn’t seem fair to me but I digress. Cade is up next putting his rock edge to “Who Will Save Your Soul” by Jewel. He opens the song with great low tones and if I hadn’t heard what he was singing beforehand I wouldn’t even recognize this. It actually sounds like it might be a half-step too low for his voice, but when he begins belting out the chorus he sounds great as usual. This performance doesn’t quite have the magic for me some of his others have, but it was definitely strong. Lionel agreed with me that Cade struggled with the low notes, but overall found the performance powerful.
8:40 p.m. – Next up is Catie with her own twist on the Britney Spears classic “Oops…I Did It Again!” Of course Catie totally fan-girled and nearly had a nervous breakdown when she met Nick. But when it came time to perform, Catie showed pure confidence with her jazzy rendition. I figured she would change up the arrangement but this was not what I expected. I figured she might have slowed it down, but she kept it uptempo and managed to make it much LESS cool than the original. I’m not feeling this. Katy said it sounded like Amy Winehouse singing a Britney Spears song. That’s a real stretch.
8:50 p.m. – We’re headed back to 1999 now, the year Caleb was born and Lonestar dominated the charts with “Amazed.” This song is right in the country crooner’s wheelhouse. Caleb’s voice is so consistent and pure that he just can’t hit a bad note. That being said, this is way to “cutesy” for me. It’s teen bop to the extreme and although I give Caleb props for his vocals, the performance leaves much to be desired. Not one of his best night’s on the stage.
8:55 p.m. – Maddie is up next with another Prince song, “Nothing Compares 2 U.” She’s accompanying herself on piano and this is such a brilliant song choice. Her voice is light but her emotions are fully poured into the performance and it felt really genuine. The judges rose to their feet following her performance and Lionel praised Maddie’s versatility. Katy said Maddie is a pure artist. Luke called it “mesmerizing.”
9:05 p.m. – Michael is up next with his second performance of the night. He is taking on “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. This will either launch him into front-runner status or completely derail him. Why would he choose this song? Oh well, let’s see how he does. During his opening verse girls were going ballistic in the audience, so they seem to like it. There is such an innocence about him, it almost feels like watching a child sing when he’s on stage. Michael has such an unorthodox singing technique, I would be interested to hear him create his own music. That being said, he can sell a performance like no other. This was vocally average, but the audience is going insane and the judges are on their feet. Katy said whatever happens she thinks he is like a Jennifer Hudson and he could end up winning an Oscar, Grammy and any other award out there. I’d love to see him take a crack at acting as well.
9:15 p.m. – If anyone had an advantage on Prince night it seems like it should be Cade. He’s up next with “Jungle Love.” I am hoping for the best but the first half is paint-by-the-numbers. I’m so happy to see Sheila E. jamming behind these contestants on drums though. Cade missed a serious opportunity to absolutely slay on guitar, but it was okay. Katy liked it more than me as she fanned herself off after watching her latest crush perform.
9:25 p.m. – Gabby is up next with her Prince tribute, “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore.” She’s ditching the country twang to prove she can belt out the soulful hit Alicia Keys recorded on her debut album. It did not reach Prince or Alicia level. I absolutely hated the ending when Gabby just started belting “Yea yea yea” just to show off notes that have nothing to do with the song. That being said, the girl has serious pipes and I still believe she is the odd-on favorite to win this season.
9:30 p.m. – Next, Jurnee is singing the 1999 Brian McKnight hit “Back at One.” It was her parents’ wedding song and she felt it would be a nice tribute. Nick said he knows he is not allowed to pick favorites, but he sees something special in Jurnee. Her version of this song is not the highly produced, bombastic version McKnight did. It almost feels acoustic and as if she’s just jamming with her band. She still found room to belt out the high notes though and showed every part of her vocal range. The judges neither overly praised nor criticized the singer. I think she’s in serious trouble of going home tonight.
9:40 p.m. – Catie is ready to sing her second song of the night, “Manic Monday,” which was recorded by The Bangles and written by Prince. Right at the top of the performance, Catie got lost in the music and missed half the first verse. Like a pro, she recovered with a smile and pushed through. The second half of the performance was much better, but Catie was clearly disappointed when she finished. The judges spent their critique giving Catie a pep-talk and if anything a sympathy vote could help her at this point. That glitch won’t make or break her chances of making the Top 5.
9:45 p.m. – Maddie is singing the 1997 hit “If It Makes You Happy” by Sheryl Crow for her second performance. She has been pretty great at picking songs that suit her voice. Tonight is no different as she puts her singer/songwriter vibe on full display. Lionel said she has a future in this business. Katy loves watching Maddie “play like a girl” and said it’s exciting to witness her. I think Maddie and Catie will be battling it out for that final spot in the Top 5. It could be a nail-biter!
9:53 p.m. – Caleb is about to put his stamp on a Prince anthem. Yes, I just actually typed those words. What could this teenage country singer possibly know about “When Doves Cry”? We’re about to find out! Unlike Gabby, Caleb is sticking with his country roots and singing with his signature twang. This actually works but it seems a little bit slow and definitely lacks the magic of Prince’s version. That being said, this was one of the best Prince covers of the night. Well done.
9:55 p.m. – Up next we will find out the Top 5! Regardless of the results, the Top 7 will all be appearing on the official “American Idol” nation-wide tour this summer so they can celebrate that. If I had to choose one performance from each round, I’d say Maddie gave my favorite Prince tribute of the night with “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Michael gave my favorite performance of songs from their birth year with “My Heart Will Go On.” Will they both advance?
9:59 p.m. – After a live nation-wide vote the top five advancing to the next round are: Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Maddie Poppe, Cade Foehner, Gabby Barrett, and Michael J. Woodard. They will be jetting off to Nashville this week to work with their next mentor, Season 4 champ Carrie Underwood. Jurnee and Catie Turner have been eliminated.